When I was approached by the Junior League of Greater Covington President last year about spearheading the Little Black Dress Initiative I was excited. I love dressing so I thought it would be a great fit for me and I had been looking for a new focus within the league.
The Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) was started by the Junior League of Atlanta as a public awareness and fundraising campaign. Participants in LBDI agree to wear the same little black dress for five consecutive days using their creativity to style the dress differently each day and do a lot with a little. Each participant tires to get pledges for the days she will be wearing the dress so that the Junior League can turn around and pour those funds back into the community.
In the community LBDI is an awareness campaign to the fact that there are many people in what is considered working poverty. In fact it’s estimated to be more than 9.5 million people in the labor force. The fact is that a working wardrobe is something that many of us take for granted. The new dress for a presentation or suit for a job interview. In reality that isn’t a luxury that a lot of people have. LBDI was created for participants to reflect on how this may effect their self esteem or even their potential working opportunities.
I divided the week up for everyone into theme days to make it easier to plan outfits. Monday was pearls in memory of the late Barbara Bush. Tuesday was lights and brights. Wednesday was on Wednesdays we wear pink. Thursday was Influential woman’s day. Friday was casual Friday. These were some of my outfits for the week.
I tried to really use my time this past week to reflect on what it’s like to be in a position of working and still not being able to get your head above water. While you can never truly put yourself in someone else’s shoes you can gain perspective. I wanted this event to be fun and I also enjoyed getting to stretch my accessorizing muscles but I tried to take a little time each day to reflect. Working poverty is something that many of us don’t think much about. I hear people talk frequently about how people on government assistance are likely not working. In truth there are many people who are working one, two or more jobs and are still not able to provide what their household needs. It’s serious and I didn’t want to take it lightly.
Some of my thoughts…
- This is a superficial thought but around day 3 I started being self-conscious about what other people were thinking about me being in the same dress every day.
- I spent some time thinking about the pressures I faced in my last job and then added to that the stress of worrying about how I was going to pay the rent or electric bill or even get groceries.
- As a mother how would I feel working more than one job and having limited access to seeing my kids and being an active participant in their education.
- How would I navigate finding affordable but quality childcare for my children.
- What would it be like to want to apply for a job in a professional setting but not have the right clothing for the interview or to wear if I was able to get the job.
- What would it be like to lose sleep over things like rent, electricity, tuition, taxes, child support payments, uniforms, registration fees, sports fees, groceries, medical bills and on and on?
- How could it impact my state of mind to always be working but never make any headway with the mountain of money I owe or needed to come up with?
This week really opened my eyes to situations people may be facing. To know that 2/3 of hourly workers are women who receive no paid sick time. That 9.5 million people in the workforce fall below the poverty line. I gained a lot of perspective on other peoples situations and also inspired me on how I want to run this event next year.
I want to personally thank Cyndi Bellina for entrusting me to chair this event. I also want to thank Michelle Davis, Jessica Bahr, Elizabeth Westervelt (and Fergie), Patti Oppenheim, Kayla Tolar, Leigh Ann Wall, Kellie Mayer and Cyndi Bellina for participating in this event. I am looking forward to growing this event even more next year.